WORKS IN-PROGRESS

“Embracing the Xenophone: Siu Kam Wen and the Possibility of Spanish-language Chinese Literature.” (forthcoming in Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature)

“Relational Taiwan: The Tidal Vision of Taiwanese Aboriginal Writer Syaman Rapongan,” in Kyle Shernuk, ed., A Taiwan Sourcebook: Island Inquiries. (Manuscript under preparation)


“Becoming Ethnic and Chinese: Sinophone Transculturation at the Millennial Turn.” PhD Diss., Harvard University, 2020.

ABSTRACT: This dissertation is inspired by a seemingly straightforward yet highly complex question: what does it mean “to be Chinese” at the turn of the twenty-first century?

Many answers have been suggested over the years to this perennial question that lies at the heart of China Studies. The majority of studies, however, center on the histories, literary legacies, and cultural customs of the Han, who are the majority ethnic group in both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC, also Taiwan). While the Han are undeniably a central part of what constitutes Chineseness, the combined population of “ethnic minorities” in these places, at more than 120 million, is enough to form nearly the tenth-largest nation in the world and is equally deserving of our consideration. Looking at ethnic groups from Taiwan’s Austronesian aboriginals to the indigenous inhabitants of the Tibetan plateau, my research teases out the different means of negotiating, imagining, and refusing identities in Chinese-language literature and media. It asks: how does one create, inhabit, and explain ethnicity in Chinese contexts today?

To answer these questions, I make two interventions into the methodological and intellectual investigation of modern China. First, I propose the Sinophone Network as a means for reconceptualizing the perceived connections (or lack thereof) between literary and cinematic works composed and/or subtitled in Mandarin Chinese and/or Sinographs. Highlighting texts’ capacity for mutual intelligibility without regard to intentionality, this network creates the potential for a methodology of critical juxtaposition, from which shared practices and points of commonality can be identified. Second, by tapping into the potential of the Sinophone Network, I introduce the concept of Chinese/ethnoscapes for discussing the relationship between Chineseness and ethnicity. Understood as co-dependent and mutually constituted terms, Chinese/ethnoscapes reflect the materiality of lived experience at the same time as engaging with the more abstract political and socio-cultural ideologies in which they are embedded. By bringing together works by writers and directors from across the Sinophone Network, and by identifying their various yet shared techniques for expressing ethnic and Chinese identities, this dissertation argues for a redefinition of the limits and possibilities of modern Chinese literary and visual studies.

My argument is advanced through four instances of critical juxtaposition that highlight shared themes for theorizing and articulating ideas about ethnicity and Chineseness. Chapter One discusses the possibility of a Sinophone, ethnic Bildungsroman and the generic manipulation necessary to accommodate ethnically Lhasa-Tibetan and Paiwan-aboriginal subjects in their respective cultural contexts. Chapter Two addresses techniques for merging Han-majority and rGyalrong-Tibetan minority ideas about history and temporality into the generic form of the novel by recourse to the literary figure of the storyteller and ideas of cosmological time. Chapter Three examines how ecological relationships are conveyed from minoritized ethnic positions, specifically Amdo-Tibetan and T’ao-aboriginal, and how they interact with Han-majority positions in both China and Taiwan. Chapter Four investigates the ethnopolitics of solidarity building, particularly as they manifest in agendas of a Sino-Islamic, socialist cosmopolitanism and a Han-majoritarian multiculturalism. I conclude with a discussion of the historical and future potential of Chinese/ethnoscapes.
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The Ecology of Travel: Capitalism, Ethnicity, and the Environment in Dadelavan Ibau’s Farewell, Eagle,” International Journal of Taiwan Studies. (Advance Article, November 2020)

ABSTRACT: This article investigates the relationship between ethnicity, the environment, and capitalism in Paiwan aboriginal writer Dadelavan Ibau’s 2004 work, Farewell, Eagle: A Paiwan Woman’s West-Tibetan Travels.

By foregrounding an ecological analytic framework—a framework inspired by Félix Guattari but revised to reflect the unique position of Taiwan and Taiwan culture at the turn of the twenty-first century—I demonstrate not only the connection between subjectivity, social relations, and the environment, but also how that connection is sustained by distinctly ethnicised forms of knowledge that emerge from within majority Han-Chinese/Taiwanese contexts. I further argue that such literary and practised tactics for ethnic expression challenge the deterritorialising and homogenising impacts of Han-sponsored capitalist expansion. Not just a story of human beings, however, I conclude by demonstrating both the active and passive roles played by the environment, which serves as both the necessary prerequisite that facilitates these ethnic and capitalist projects alike, as well as the price by which their actualisation is paid.
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“A Queerness of Relation: The Plight of the “Ethnic Minority” in Chan Koon-Chung’s Bare Life,” in Howard Chiang and Alvin Wong, eds., Keywords in Queer Sinophone Studies, 80-102. New York: Routledge, May 2020.

ABSTRACT: In this chapter, I advance a relational model for understanding the connection between ideas about ethnicity and gender in the People’s Republic of China (PRC; also, China) at the turn of the 21st century.

Using the example of Champa, the Lhasa-Tibetan man that serves as the protagonist of Chan Koon-chung’s novel Bare Life, I demonstrate how normative political and social presumptions about his gender and ethnicity, as well as his class, linguistic, and geographic background, are relationally mobilized in ways that result in his dehumanization and exclusion from mainstream society. Discovering himself as the constitutive outside to the promise of the China Dream—the necessary scapegoat who is kept around only to be blamed and killed—Champa ends his journey with a dream of his own: to meet the other ethnic groups in China and even those around the world. This gesture toward a shared experience of non-normative existence, of similarity through difference, resonates with theories of ethnicity, gender, and race globally, and brings contemporary Chinese-language literature into conversation with these global concerns.
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For purchasing information, see Routledge’s website.


“2012/2014 – Minority Heritage in the Age of Multiculturalism:  Zhang Chengzhi Republishes History of the Soul and Alai’s Zhandui Receives No Points.” in David Wang, ed., A New Literary History of Modern China, 934-940. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017.


“1990/1: Yearnings debuts in the PRC; The Golden Age wins Taiwan’s Unitas Fiction Award: From the Margins to the Mainstream—A Tale of Two Wangs,” co-authored with Dylan Suher, in David Wang, ed., A New Literary History of Modern China, 821-826. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017.


“October 1960: An Underground Chinese Malaysian War Novel is Published—Revolution, Body and the Chinese Malaysian Leftists Narrative,” co-authored with Chong Fah Hing, in David Wang, ed., A New Literary History of Modern China, 635-640. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017.


For purchasing information, see Harvard University Press.


Queer Chinese Postsocialist Horizons: New Models of Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Chinese Fiction, “Sentiments Like Water” and Beijing Story. MA Thesis. University of Oregon. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI, 2012. (ISBN 9781267563682).

ABSTRACT: This thesis represents an investigation into the strategies used by postsocialist Chinese male subjects to articulate their subjecthood and desires.

The introduction explains the choice for using a phenomenological methodological approach in addressing the issue and also lays out the simultaneous goal of this thesis to inaugurate a move away from political allegorical interpretations as the standard for reading contemporary Chinese literature. The body chapters look at two different contemporary Chinese works to help illuminate the arrival of the Chinese subject. Using Wang Xiaobo’s novella “Sentiments Like Water” and the anonymously penned online novel Beijing Story as case studies, this thesis investigates the ways alternative epistemologies and uses of history can undo pathological understandings of queerness and create new identities for Chinese subjects. The thesis concludes with thinking about the direction of the queer and Chinese studies fields and offers future points of investigation.
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